There are few things more common in Hollywood than a television show being canceled before its time. Every single network and streaming service out there has axed at least one truly great series at some point, getting rid of it while it still had plenty of juice left because the ratings were subpar.
With some of those shows, we still wonder what they could have become had they just been given a bit more time (although a few actually were revived later). Here's a look at the absolute best show ever canceled by every major network and streaming service.
NBC: Freaks and Geeks
Freaks and Geeks | NBC
NBC has canceled a lot of great shows, but there's no series that we'd be more curious to see a second season of than Freaks and Geeks. The teen dramedy, after all, launched the careers of so many talented actors, including James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, Martin Starr, and Lizzy Caplan.
Paul Feig also created the show, and Judd Apatow produced it. All of these people would go on to take the industry by storm. Freaks and Geeks' cancellation just came down to the ratings not being too great. But if NBC had any idea how much talent they had on their hands, they surely would have given Season 2 a shot.
Next: This is one of the best animated shows of all time, but it was canceled after four seasons.
Futurama | Comedy Central
After The Simpsons had become a hit on Fox, creator Matt Groening followed it up with Futurama, a sci-fi comedy that was oftentimes equally brilliant and occasionally even surpassed The Simpsons at its peak. But Fox treated the show poorly throughout its run, constantly changing the time slot and leaving viewers confused about when it was actually on.
By the end of the fourth season, Fox decided not to continue Futurama. So for a while, The Simpsons was approaching a 20th season, yet Futurama didn't even get five. Luckily, Comedy Central ultimately revived the show, and it got to continue to Season 7.
Next: This ABC show deserved better than one season.
ABC: My So-Called Life
My So-Called Life | ABC
There are so many options for ABC, from Pushing Daisies to Twin Peaks. But among their most frustrating cancellations ever was My So-Called Life, the fantastic teen drama starring Claire Danes.
Dealing with social issues in an effective way, My So-Called Life features one of the most realistic depictions of adolescence in the history of television. And it continues to receive acclaim for being ahead of its time. In TV: The Book, in which critics Alan Sepinwall and Matt Zoller Seitz rank the 100 greatest TV shows ever made, My So-Called Life comes in at No. 27.
What's especially frustrating is that this is another one of those canceled shows that ended on a cliffhanger, one that will sadly never be resolved. This was also the first show to really spark online petitions calling for its renewal. But unfortunately, those efforts did not succeed.
Next: Fans of this show also petitioned for it to return.
Jericho | CBS
Jericho is a rare show that was actually canceled two separate times by the same network. CBS canceled this great post-apocalyptic drama at the end of the first season, which provided fans absolutely no resolution. The outcry online was massive, and due to popular demand, CBS actually decided to reverse its decision and bring the show back for Season 2.
But unfortunately, when the show returned, the ratings were even worse than they were in Season 1. So at the end of the second season, CBS canceled Jericho again, and this time, it was permanent. The show did, however, continue in the form of a comic book.
Next: This is the best show that HBO ever canceled.
Deadwood | HBO
When it comes to HBO, there really is no question that the best canceled show has got to be Deadwood. This Western series is now considered to be one of the greatest TV dramas ever, and it received almost 30 Emmy nominations.
There are some who even make the argument that it is the greatest TV series ever made, but it only ended up lasting three seasons. In 2006, HBO decided not to renew the options of the lead actors, effectively ending the series. There was some talk of a movie, but it never happened.
At least, it hasn't happened yet. Now, years later, it seems like that is finally a possibility.
Next: This is the best Showtime show to be canceled.
Showtime: Dead Like Me
Dead Like Me | Showtime
Created by Bryan Fuller, Showtime's Dead Like Me follows a woman who dies and becomes a grim reaper. The show was excellent, but for some reason, it seems like nothing that Fuller creates ever really works out. He ended up leaving at the end of the first season, and Showtime canceled the show after Season 2.
Still, there was quite a lot of demand for more, so much so that a direct-to-video movie was released a few years later.
Next: We'd love to see more of this canceled CW show.
The CW: Veronica Mars
Veronica Mars | UPN
Veronica Mars starred Kristen Bell as a high school student who works as a private detective; each episode was mostly standalone, though there were also longer mysteries spanning many episodes. The show was pretty consistently great, but The CW (previously UPN) decided not to keep it going after the third season.
Years later, though, Bell and creator Rob Thomas took matters into their own hands, making a movie partially funded by Kickstarter. Now, Bell says that she still plans to make more of the show. But we can't help but fantasize about what the series would have looked like had it been able to continue its original run.
Next: This show's low ratings might have had something to do with its awful title.
Terriers | FX
Very few shows in the history of television suffered more due to a bad title than Terriers, the crime dramedy produced by The Shield's Shawn Ryan. Critics absolutely adored this series, with many ranking it as one of the greatest shows of the year. But the ratings were not good enough for it to make it to Season 2.
It's hard to blame FX for canceling the show given how low the ratings were, but it was still pretty devastating to see it go.
Next: This show was canceled in 2018.
Starz: Ash vs. Evil Dead
Ash vs. Evil Dead | Starz
A couple of shows are strong candidates for this slot, including Party Down. But there's a pretty recent one whose cancellation really devastated us most of all: Ash vs. Evil Dead.
This horror-comedy saw Bruce Campbell returning to play Ash Williams, his iconic character from the Evil Dead franchise. The series was one of those rare instances where a franchise returns and is just as good as it always was, although the show did have its issues.
But the end of the third season changed up the dynamic dramatically, setting up a fourth season that would take place in a Mad Max-style post-apocalyptic setting. Sadly, fans will never get to see that because Starz canceled the series, and now, Bruce Campbell has said he will never play Ash again.
Next: It was pretty surprising when Netflix canceled this show.
Netflix: Lady Dynamite
Lady Dynamite | Netflix
Netflix has only canceled a handful of truly great shows; it tends to be the case that if a Netflix show is even remotely good, it will go on for a while. But probably the best show that they've canceled so far is Lady Dynamite, the incredibly ambitious series from hilarious comedian Maria Bamford.
The second season received a 100% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Apparently, not enough people were watching it though, as Netflix did not allow it to return for Season 3.
Next: Hulu canceled a great comedy of their own.
Hulu: Difficult People
Difficult People | Hulu
Hulu hasn't been producing shows for long enough to have canceled that many great ones, but so far, the best of their canceled series has got to be Difficult People.
This sitcom starring Billy Eichner and Julie Klausner received praise from critics, with the third season getting a 100% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Still, it did not get a third season.
Next: Yet another great comedy that a streaming service canceled.
Amazon: One Mississippi
One Mississippi | Amazon
Yet another great comedy series from a hilarious comedian that was canceled by a streaming service is One Mississippi, which Amazon axed in 2018. Created by and starring Tig Notaro, this show received overwhelming critical praise, and it tackled some pretty serious issues — including one episode that was clearly about Louis C.K. long before reports of his sexual misconduct emerged.
But Amazon decided not to bring One Mississippi back for a third season.
Next: This show ended on a cliffhanger.
USA: The 4400
The 4400 | USA
In this science fiction series, 4400 people who had previously disappeared at various times wake up remembering nothing about what happened to them. The show had a lot of hardcore fans and got pretty good reviews, but USA canceled it at the end of the fourth season.
It left viewers with no resolution after the finale ended on a cliffhanger and was one of many shows to be canceled during the writer's strike.
Next: Another sci-fi show that was canceled way too soon.
Syfy: The Expanse
The Expanse | SyFy
For the SyFy network, we're going to have to go with a pretty recent example: The Expanse, which was canceled in May 2018. This was one of the best-reviewed science fiction shows on television. Critics loved it, with the third season getting a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. It also had a fairly passionate online fanbase.
But the ratings were just never quite there, creating fears especially in the third season that Syfy might ax it. Indeed, they did near the end of the third season, leading fans to beg other networks to pick the show up. Now, Amazon is talks to pick it up, so this whole story may have a happy ending.
Next: This hilarious show deserved more than 13 episodes.
MTV: Clone High
Clone High | MTV
This hilarious comedy, which takes place in a high school populated by clones of famous historical figures, was created by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who would later go on to take Hollywood by storm with The Lego Movie and 21 Jump Street.
But this early effort of theirs, despite being beloved by those who watched it, only lasted 13 episodes. Since then, Lord and Miller have occasionally talked about the idea of doing a Clone High movie.
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